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Find Your Training Paces

Calculators to the right training paces for best training stimulus and adaptations

Team GeeksOnFeet

4 minutes read

trainig paces

A well-structured training for a race involves working on different aspects of running based on the goal and the race specifics. Typical aspects of running that need to be worked on involve speed, general endurance, speed endurance, race-specific endurance, recovery, and more. Based on the race distance, course, and time of the race, additional aspects like uphill repeats, altitude runs, heat acclimatization may have to be added to the training.


Use the VO2Max based calculator Use the Goal Pace based calculator

Training at the right intensity based on the outcome is key to progression. The pace at which we train provides the optimal stimulus, and results in best aerobic and neuromuscular adaptations. The most frequently asked question is how to determine the pace to train at.

There are several approaches to determine the training intensity. Here is a quick rundown of these.

Pace Zones The intensity of the pace varies depending on your current training pace. This method would need a GPS watch for training on roads.
Heart Rate Zones The intensities of the workouts are organized by the heart rate using a heart rate sensor. Some of the popular GPS watches come with wrist-based heart rate sensors.
Power Zones Power-based training is a relatively new method of training. This method would involve using Power Meter such as Stryd, select Garmin Watches or COROS Pod.
Effort Zones Training by the feel of your effort is as basic as it can get. You can use an RPE scale such as Foster’s or Borg’s scale to do this. Read our post on the RPE scale for further details.

Whichever approach is used, all of these will lead to similar pace ranges. So pace zones are a good start for most runners. Two methods to find the training paces

  1. VO2Max based - Estimate the VO2Max based on current fitness, and determine training paces accordingly.
  2. Goal-based - Use the goal pace for your marathon, and use it to determine the training paces.

#1 Using VO2Max to find Training Paces

Finding the VO2Max Aerobic fitness is most commonly measured using VO2Max. VO2Max is the measure of maximum oxygen consumption. Accurate measurement of VO2Max will involve a lab setup. A more practical approach is to use the race effort and use it to estimate the VO2Max. Here are the few commonly used methods to estimate VO2Max.

  • Pick a recent race effort - Indicative of your current fitness.
  • Run a time trial - If you haven’t run a race in recent times, run a time trial to determine your current fitness. The distance can be anything more than 5k.

Training Paces based on VO2Max Once VO2Max is estimated the different training paces will be a percentage of the VO2Max. The table below summarizes them.

Type of Training % of VO2Max Pace
VO2Max Intervals 100% of VO2Max
Speed Intervals 110% of VO2Max
Tempo Runs 85%-90% of VO2 Max
Easy Runs 70% of VO2Max
Long Runs 70% of VO2Max and Slower

To make it easy for you, we have created a calculator that estimates VO2Max based on the distance and time of the race or time trial. You can use this calculator to find the suggested training paces based on VO2Max.

#2 Using Goal Race Pace to find Training Paces

It is important that the goal pace set for a race is practically achievable within the training period before the race. Hence setting the right race goal is very important, and here is where a coach or an experienced running friend can help.

Once the target pace is known, you can find the training paces as below.

Pace Guidance for Marathon Training

Type of Training % of Marathon Goal Pace
VO2Max Intervals 5k Race Pace
Speed Intervals Maximal Effort
Tempo Runs 5%-10% Faster
Long Runs 10-20% slower
Easy Runs 15-25% slower
Recovery Runs 30%-40% or even slower

Pace Guidance for Half-marathon Training

Type of Training % of Half-Marathon Goal Pace
VO2Max Intervals 5k Race Pace
Speed Intervals Maximal Effort
Tempo Runs 5-10 seconds slower than 10K Race Pace
Long Runs 15-30% slower than Half-Marathon Pace
Easy Runs 25-35% slower than Half-marathon Pace
Recovery Runs Slower than easy runs

Click the button below to use calculator that uses desired goal pace to find the training paces.

If you are used to heart training, using Heart rate zones is another method to find the training pace zones. How to use Heart rate zones to find the training paces will be discussed in a future article.

Prepared by Team GeeksOnFeet for the love of running!

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